Game Plan: Learning Russian (take two)

Okay, I seriously don’t know what happened to the post I just spent the last twenty minutes writing. So, redo. 

I would like to say that I’ve been busily writing those reviews I need to catch up on, but truth is I have a renewed interest in learning Russian. And that’s where I’ve been this past couple of days. I promise I’m not goofing off! Here’s proof.


Learning a second language has been one of my goals for years and Russian has been my target language for the past two or three. I’m behind mainly because I keep pushing it to the side. As much as I want to learn another language, work and school are my priorities (and they still are) but I need to make more of an effort to incorporate Russian into my daily routine, even if only for thirty minutes. 

So, my game plan. So I can hold myself accountable.

  1. Practice reading in Russian for ten minutes a day. Currently, I suck at pronunciation. I can read fairly well, but I’m still trying to get the hang of stressed and unstressed letters. Hopefully by reading I can pick this up.
  2. Practice writing in Russian for ten minutes a day. Because I’m a writer. And because writing seems to make things sink in and help me to recognize patterns (in my first draft I listed examples, but I’m too tired to pull it up again. They’re written in my language journal which is tucked away since I’m just about ready to sleep!).
  3. Start a vlog. Which is for my eyes only! Possibly. Maybe. For now at least. Reading and writing helps, but keeping a daily vlog will probably help with my pronunciation.
  4. Add three words to my vocabulary list. Because it’s good practice, especially if I use a partial phrase to help students learn, like “This is a [insert vowels].”
  5. Practice three phrases per week. Because I agree with polyglot Olly Richards. We hardly use single words to communicate. When we do, it is generally spoken in phrases. This will teach me something new.

So there you have it. Game plan! Can’t wait to check back in. See you then

Table Talk: The Information World

Information: General or specific knowledge about a subject, event, or person.

Let me take a break from reviews a bit to talk a little about the information world.

Why?

Excellent question. How to answer this is another matter.

My blog is mainly reviews. I like talking movies, books, and television and my blog provides a quick summary and my thoughts and these various forms of entertainment. I’d throw in music, but all I really do is listen to music and I’m not sure how to incorporate that into a blog post. And when I think about my blip of information adding to the vast sea of information already out there, I think of how a drop of water just disappears into the to the sink. You cannot tell where that drop of water is. You cannot distinguish your drop of water among the many drops of water.

And then I think about everything else out there on the internet. When I work on research papers for class or even just looking up random bits of information a simple internet search can call up pages and pages of links on what you’re trying to find out. Not including social media platforms. Opinions of others on the subject you’re researching only adds those pages and pages of links.

There is a lot of information out there, fact and fiction, that makes its way into our research.

It could be that I am a library assistant. It could be that I’m a student. Whatever the reason, I cannot help but think just how inflated information can be now days. I use Google a lot when writing my posts. For basic information, to find a quote, to read other reviews. And I see those pages and pages and pages of links yet I don’t make it past page three, sometimes four and never past page five. I sometimes even click on the last page just to see if there is anything useful on that last page. A whole lot of misinformation, or disinformation, and a whole lot of opinions that are being passed off as facts.

And all this always makes me think of the book Are Libraries Obsolete? by Mark Herring. He argues there is a significant difference between knowledge and information. He mentions “it is one thing to find fifty links to a certain topic; it is another to know which of the fifty links on, say, evolution are by scientists, which are by creationist, and which are by eighth graders (36).” He makes the comparison that the internet catches noise whereas libraries try to catch signals (26). While Herring is making his case for the value of libraries, the same concepts can be applied to those who work in libraries. The brains who are pointing out the scientists and such. People like me, who is striving for a Library and Information Science degree.

Let’s take a closer look at that shall we. Information science. Defined as “an interdisciplinary field primarily concerned with the analysis, collection, classification, manipulation, storage, retrieval, movement, dissemination, and protection of information (Wikipedia).”

When I mention that I’m pursing a Library and Information Science degree, people tend to only hear and focus on library. As in “you need a degree to work in a library?” because everyone who works there, even those who are only checking in and checking out materials has a degree says sarcastically. You don’t need a degree to work in a library, however, you need a degree if you want to be a librarian. How else can they separate information and knowledge for you? If everyone can do that, there wouldn’t be a disinformation problem. The internet wouldn’t be inflated with noise and actually have well-thought through links to quality information.

This month is Records and Information Month with the first week being Library Week. Maybe take a minute or two to reflect on just how important knowledge is and the wisdom it takes to filter out the noise. And then think about your library and the people who work in the library. I’m not bias either. I was a library patron way before I ever worked in a library. And I always appreciated research. And when you think about your library and the people who work there, why don’t you stop by a library and show some appreciation? Tell them thank you for the service they provide. They are there to help you. To help arm you with accurate and up-to-date information.

Happy Library Week everyone!

 

Photo credit: dreamstime.com

Table Talk: The Library – “an organized collection of sources of information …”

I have to say, I never would have guessed I’d someday work in a library. As much as I loved our local library growing up, as much as I loved to read … ever, growing up it never occurred to me that I could actually work in a library. It never crossed my mind and I have no idea why.

Well, I love it. I’m not sure if I want to actually work as a librarian, but I love this field. This … information field (which I’ll explain sometime soon because I just realized this is a topic for another post).

Working in the library, I’ve heard some very interesting comments ranging from “I love libraries” to “libraries are obsolete” to “wait, you guys don’t help us type our resumes?” Which leads me to think that libraries mean different things to different people. And when lines get blurred and the meanings get vague, I tend to go to the root of things. So, as defined by Wikipedia, a library is:

an organized collection of sources of information and similar sources, made accessible to a defined community for referencing or borrowing.

You see that? Sources of information and similar sources? No where in that definition does it say that a library is a place to house and/or store books.  Books, however, hold information and since libraries are organized collections of sources of information … there you go.

I say this because at one point in history, books were the de facto source of information. You had oral history and then you had written history ranging from symbols on cave walls to rolls of parchment with scribbles to the printed press and books. And guess what? Your library, till this day, still has an oral source of information (e.g. the librarian and/or his/her assistants) as well as written sources of information (e.g. books and magazines).

And now you have the internet and online databases to add to those “sources of information” and someone who can show you how to use those sources (hint: the librarian and/or the reference staff)

I could write turn this into another “Are libraries obsolete?” post/article, but that is for another day. I simply wanted to clarify exactly what a library is.

Is it really that important to “clarify” it?

I think it is. I think there is a disconnect between what society thinks a library is and what it actually is. Whether it’s because we’re getting swept up in this fast paced, digital age or because libraries have been a bit slow to re-image or redefine themselves is yet another debate for another day, but for now, I’ll just start with a definition.

Libraries are information centers and the key word here is information, not books. Yes, libraries have movies and audio books and CDs which may or may not be educational, but if nothing else don’t they hold information? The definition of library doesn’t say the sources of information has to be educational. So I ask again, does a movie have some sense of information on it? Or maybe a CD? Yes. Yes, they do.

And while we’re on this topic, let’s define information as well. Wikipedia says information is:

that which informs i.e. an answer to a question, as well as that which knowledge and data can be derived .

I love that. “That which informs, such as an answer to a question” and “that which knowledge and data can be derived.”

Hm, why was Seinfeld such a popular TV show? Let’s borrow Season 1 of Seinfeld from the library.

Harry Potter had 7 books! I’ll just borrow the movies from the library.

What kind of music did the Eagles play?

Who is the latest and greatest jazz artist?

What in the world is New Age music?

All the answers to these questions can be found at a library, especially if you don’t feel like pay $1.29 for song or piece of music you may not like or $4.99 rental fee for a movie you may not care for. Generally, libraries provide this all to you for free or an even lower fee than that.

I can just do an internet search. No biggie.

Well, you’re right. But that’s another argument and debatable subject and my goal right now is to simply define library.

So, there you have it. Libraries. Information centers. Just so you know.

Privately-Run v.s. Public Libraries

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog is solely those of the author and does not reflect the views and beliefs of the Hawaii Public Library System in any way. This is strictly my opinion and understanding.

There’s an interesting debate going on in a group I’m a part of regarding privatized public libraries. It centers around this link: Are Privatized Public Libraries So Bad? which was posted on the The Atlanta Cities website. There are many valid points and arguments, but it is a heated debate. Many participants are passionate about libraries and their role as quality information agents. Many of the participants have worked in libraries and/or continue to work in public libraries so it hits close to home for most of them.

I’ve been a patron of our public library system for as long as I can remember. I absolutely love it! I’ve used my library for all sorts of things. I love to read so I borrow a lot of fiction. I love to research so I borrow a lot of non-fiction. And when computers made its way to the library, I used the computer for research. I’ve used their access databases for research as well. So I’m a huge fan of our public library.

In addition to being a patron, I recently became an employee of this wonderful institution. During the first portion of my orientation, the head librarian of my branch went over the mission of the library system:

“To provide Hawaii residents, in all walks of life, and in each stage of their lives, with access to education, information, programs and services, and to teach and nurture the love of reading and the habit of life-long learning.”

Hawaii Public Library Systems – Mission Statement

I have to say, this mission statement aligns with my personal values, with Personal Growth and Development being one of them.

So I’m all for public libraries. However, I see the struggle our public library systems go through and more so now that I’m a part of it. Before becoming an employee, the Friends of the Library did a promotional series on the benefits of the library. This ran parallel to budget talks about funding cuts statewide for all branches of state government. It worried me then, that was about five years ago. It worries me now, especially with the shift in the roles of libraries that seems to be taking place. More and more patrons are asking questions like: “How do I use the internet?,” “Can you help me with my résumé?,” “Can you type out a business letter?” Not to mention that some of our free services get really negative complaints: “My request will take how long to fulfill? Three to six weeks? Why so long?” And then we have to explain since we use the cheapest available shipping to make sure the service remains free, the cheapest available also takes the longest route to get here.

The help that I’m being asked for everyday seems very different from the help I was given while growing up. And even though the Information Age seems to be in full swing, it seems that libraries are still trying to figure out how to accommodate this new age.

I think this is what determines whether privatization is a good thing or a bad. And I feel it is on a case-by-case basis. For the most part, I believe that it can be a very good thing. Many people fear change and I’m not saying that privately-run public libraries are without fault. There’s always room for corruption and the quality of service may waiver, but it is the same for a public sector as well. Should I shun the idea of a privately-run library based on the possibility that it may be a bad thing? Should I completely rule out the idea based on a what if? What if a privately-run library was owned and operated by someone who felt the same way, someone who shares that vision?

I don’t think privatization is the answer for everything, but it is an option that should be considered. Any business can be good business if it’s run properly and sticks to its vision and mission statements. And that applies to both the private sector and public sectors.

Other Sources:
“The Difference Between the Private and Public Sector.” Privacy Sense. Accessed 07 August 2013.
http://www.privacysense.net/difference-between-private-public-sector/

Erikson, Amanda. “Are Privatized Public Libraries So Bad?” The Atlantic Cities. Last modified March 28, 2012.
http://www.theatlanticcities.com/arts-and-lifestyle/2012/03/are-privatized-public-libraries-so-bad/1583/?goback=.gmr_40592.gde_40592_member_263808550.gmr_40592.gde_40592_member_260632557

Hawaii Public Library Systems. Accessed 07 August 2013. http://librarieshawaii.org

“Outsourcing and Privatization.” American Library Association. Accessed 07 August 2013.
http://www.ala.org/tools/outsourcing